can bug spray kill birds

A popular pesticide is causing bird species to decline at an alarming rate in the United States, according to a recent study co-authored by an Auburn University researcher and published in the journal, Nature Sustainability.

“There have long been concerns that the use of neonicotinoids—a group of synthetic insecticides that have gained popularity in seed coating, foliage spray and soil drenches in agricultural and residential areas in the past 25 years—may harm non-targeted species such as pollinators, birds and mammals, including perhaps even humans,” said Ruiqing Miao, assistant professor in the College of Agriculture’s Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology.

Earlier studies focusing on the impact of neonicotinoid use on birds are based mainly on evidence from laboratory experiments or focused on other countries, Miao said. This most recent study fills the gap, as it is a national-scale analysis based on historical data observed in the United States.

Based on county-level pesticide-use data and the observation-route level bird count data from 2008-14, all obtained from the U.S. Geological Survey, the study statistically analyzes nearly 15,000 observations of bird-pesticide pairs across the contiguous U.S. to examine the causal relationship between neonicotinoid use and decline in bird biodiversity.

The study found that, on average, a 100-kilogram increase in neonicotinoid use in a county will decrease grassland bird population in that county by 2.2 percent and decrease non-grassland bird population by about 1.4 percent, Miao said.

Species richness in a county, measured by the number of bird species, will be decreased by about 0.5 percent for both grassland and non-grassland birds for every 100-kilogram increase in neonicotinoid use in the county, he said. The same amount of increase in neonicotinoid use will cause a 0.4-percent decrease in species evenness (a measure of the distributional evenness of population across various species) for grassland birds.

When birds eat the pesticide-coated seeds or insects that have pollinated neonicotinoid-treated plants, the chemicals can harm bird development. Over time, they decrease birds’ abilities to reproduce.

The chemicals can have an effect for years after birds consume them. Neonicotinoids have increased in popularity among farmers because they do not have to be reapplied once plants are growing. However, past studies have also linked the pesticides to decreases in important pollinators, like bees and butterflies, which prompted the European Union to ban nearly all neonicotinoids.

“For non-grassland birds, however, the negative impact on spices evenness is not statistically significant,” Miao said. “Similar, but slightly smaller, negative effects are found for populations, species richness and species evenness of insectivorous birds and non-insectivorous birds.”

The study further quantifies the overall impact of neonicotinoid uses over the period 2008-14 in the United States, he said. It shows that over this period, on average, the neonicotinoid uses cause a 4 percent and 3 percent annual reduction in grassland bird population and insectivorous bird population, respectively.

For non-grassland bird and non-insectivorous bird populations, the annual reduction caused by neonicotinoid uses in the period is about 2 percent.

When the dynamic effect of bird population is taken into account (i.e., reduction in bird population in a year will further reduce the reproductive capacity of the population in the next year), then the annual reduction impact caused by the neonicotinoid uses from 2008-14 will be much higher, reaching 12 percent and 5 percent for grassland birds and insectivorous birds, respectively.

Geographically, the negative impact on bird populations occurs mainly in the Midwest, southern California and Upper Great Plains regions of the United States.

The study also compares the impact of neonicotinoids and that of non-neonicotinoids, Miao said. “The negative effect of a 100-kilogram increase in neonicotinoid use is about 40 times larger than that of the same amount increase in non-neonicotinoid use.

“For instance, a 100-kilogram increase in neonicotinoid use in a county will decrease the grassland bird population by 2.2 percent, whereas the same amount of increase in non-neonicotinoid use decreases the grassland bird population by only 0.05 percent. Having said that, one must note that neonicotinoids for only about 1 percent of pesticides in terms of total weight in the United States.”

The study also examines the impact of cropland and developed land on bird biodiversity. It finds that a 1-percent increase in cropland acreage in a county tends to reduce 1.4 percent to 3.5 percent of grassland bird populations and 1.7 percent to 3.2 percent of insectivorous bird population.

“The impact of cropland expansion on non-grassland birds and non-insectivorous birds is smaller,” Miao said. “Developed land is found to have negative impact on bird biodiversity as well, especially for non-grassland birds.”

The study, he said, offers empirical evidence that using a neonicotinoid leads to a decline in bird biodiversity, particularly for grassland birds, lending support to current effort of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to re-evaluate the uses of neonicotinoids.

“For agricultural chemical producers and farmers, this indicates that the search for more sustainable means of pest control is still unsettled,” Miao said. “About a quarter of a century ago, neonicotinoids emerged as a new class of pesticides with less toxicity to non-targeted species, and they replaced some of the earlier pesticides. One would expect that similar ‘creative destructive forces’ should lead to more sustainable means of insect control.”

Co-authors of the study are Yijia Li, graduate student in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, and Madhu Khanna, ACES Distinguished Professor in Environmental Economics and associate director of research at the Institute of Sustainability, Energy and Environment, also at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station provided partial funding for the project. The research article can be found on the Nature website.

The use of neonicotinoids—a group of synthetic insecticides that have gained popularity in seed coating, foliage spray and soil drenches in agricultural and residential areas in the past 25 years—is causing bird species to decline at an alarming rate in the United States, according to a study co-authored by Auburn researcher Ruiqing Miao and published in the journal, Nature Sustainability.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.

ABC spearheaded a coalition of fifty organizations in the 1990s to stop the use of carbofuran, a highly toxic carbamate insecticide that had killed millions of shorebirds, raptors, including the Golden Eagle (pictured), grassland birds, and songbirds. Finally, in 2011, the U. S. The manufacturer’s desperate attempt to keep carbofuran on the market was denied by the Supreme Court.

A 2015 study by American Bird Conservancy and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has found bird- and bee-killing insecticides in nearly every food eaten by the nation’s Senators, Representatives, and others who dine in the cafeterias of the United States Congress. Read the report.

More than a dozen pesticides that are especially dangerous to birds have been canceled thanks in part to ABC, including a variety of rodent poisons, ethyl parathion, fenthion, and carbofuran. For instance, the manufacturer of d-CON consented to remove its hazardous brodifacoum-based pesticides from store shelves in 2014 after years of pressure from ABC and other organizations—a significant win for Red-tailed Hawks (pictured) and other raptors.

Neonicotinoids are currently the most widely used insecticides worldwide. Our 2013 study on these substances revealed that they are deadly to birds: a Field Sparrow (shown) can be killed by a single neonic-coated seed. Since then, we have assisted in convincing stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot to gradually remove plant products treated with neonic acid. Read Report.

Geographically, the United States’ Midwest, southern California, and Upper Great Plains are the primary areas where there is a detrimental influence on bird populations.

When the population’s dynamic impact on birds is considered, e. a year’s decrease in bird population will also result in a year’s reduction in the population’s ability to reproduce), so the annual reduction impact of neonicotinoid use from 2008 to 2014 will be significantly higher, reaching 12 percent for grassland birds and 5 percent for insectivorous birds, respectively.

According to him, the study provides empirical proof that the use of neonicotinoid pesticides reduces bird biodiversity, especially for grassland birds, supporting the ongoing efforts of the U.S. S. Environmental Protection Agency to re-evaluate the uses of neonicotinoids.

However, the detrimental effect on spices evenness for non-grassland birds is not statistically significant, according to Miao. “The populations, species richness, and species evenness of insectivorous birds and non-insectivorous birds exhibit similar, albeit marginally smaller, adverse effects.” ”.

The chemicals can impair bird development when birds consume the pesticide-coated seeds or insects that pollinate plants treated with neonicotinoid pesticides. Over time, they decrease birds’ abilities to reproduce.


Can you spray bug spray around birds?

Bug spray are as bad for birds as they are for bugs. I’ve once heard that few chickens died in their coop when they attempted to kill ants due to aerosol bug spray. Completely seal off the birds in a different room and make sure the room where you spray, has good ventilation so that the aerosol goes away soon.

Is raid harmful to birds?

This product is toxic to fish, birds and other wildlife. Do not apply directly to water.

Does pesticide kill birds?

Unfortunately pesticides don’t just stop at their intended targets – often pesticides kill birds (and bees and butterflies and other animals), resulting in at least 67 million bird deaths every year in the U.S. a conservative estimate as death by toxins is often difficult to detect.

Will mosquito spray hurt birds?

Many chemicals used in sprays kill far more than just mosquitoes. Broad-spectrum spraying harms birds for the simple fact that the spray kills their food source (many birds feed on insects). Other chemicals affect birds and wildlife in more complicated ways.